October 18, 2015

Warts & All: The Whole Story

Madison moved out in May. She’s my daughter. She’s 17. She’s decided that the best way to rebel against us is to become an independent, responsible adult, so she lives at the beach now and checks in every now and then and that’s just the deal with Madison. Her boyfriend is significantly older. He is an adult. It’s creepy and weird but legal and it’s her body and life so, go, live at the beach, be in love, be poor, experience things, be free, have your heart broken and learn. She’s always welcome back. That has basically been my position on the situation since day one.

Madison left behind a room full of garbage and her 9 year old cat that she’s been saying since she was 12 that she’d take with her when she moved out. Realistically, Madison can’t take care of a cat, especially this cat, so we were begrudgingly fine with her leaving her behind. The cat’s name is Pixel, btw. She’s not a long-haired black/brown tabby, but she’s definitely fluffy and could never be accused of being short-haired, and she has a little nubbin of a bunny tail because of her origin story.

In the spring of 2006, my new friends in our new town, Jesse & Jen, called me up and said they found some kittens at Jesse’s house and they were sick and hurt and they didn’t know what to do with them. Jesse lives in the middle of nowhere with farmer’s fields on all sides of him and I guess the kittens had been born and living with their mom underneath the concrete steps on the back of his house, coming in and out through a cat-sized crack on the side. They were about 6-8 weeks old.

So Jesse & Jen trap the kittens and their mother and bring them over to my house in a cat carrier. There were five kittens, a couple of black and white ones, a grey tabby and our cat Pixel. All of the kittens had crusty, bloody, infected stumps where their tails had formerly been and the worst case of worms I’ve ever witnessed with my own eyes in an animal. While holding one of the kittens, I actually watched, in HORROR, as a worm slithered out of one of the kittens’ anuses and into its urethra, smooth as butter, causing the kitten to cry. It happened so fast and I was so unprepared for it, there was nothing I could do but watch this happen. My theory on the missing tails was that something big and predatory and too big to fit through the crack in the concrete steps chased the kittens to eat them and just nipped their tails every time until they didn’t have any more. They could have also been frostbitten, but it was been pretty warm.

The mama cat was black and her tail was intact and she was as feral as cats come, just nothing domesticated about her in the slightest.

At the time, I had a new house, the dog I always wanted and two little kids who thought these kittens were the greatest things that ever lived. The three of us decided I wanted to keep one and I let the kids decide which one they would theoretically want and each kid picked a different one and would not agree. I called Blake, my husband, at work and said, “Hey so there’s these cats here, can we have a cat?” and he said, “I’d really prefer not to have a cat”. So I kept both kittens the kids wanted and we named them Digit (the boy) and Pixel (the girl). Blake calls this “cat logic”. You don’t want ANY cats but you end up with TWO.

Here’s where Madison likes to point out that technically, she chose Digit and Wes chose Pixel. Madison would have been 8 and Wes would have been 3 or 4.

The other kittens and the mom were taken to the OSPCA by Jen after staying at our house overnight and throughout the first year, we watched the kittens grow and play and be delightful. Digit had an issue with spraying at one point but once we got them both fixed, that stopped, but now, since the smell of cat was in the carpet and on various things that are hard to get cat out of, they both started peeing where they shouldn’t have every now & then, but still almost always using the litter box and going outside often.

When the kittens were about a year old, Digit got hit on the road in front of our neighbour’s house and it was gross and sad and that was the end of Digit. That was also the beginning of the end of going outside for Pixel. I know it’s so fucking unlikely that I probably shouldn’t even mention it, but in my narrative for Pixel is that she saw Digit get hit on the road and it scared her so she stopped leaving our yard. Then she only went outside in the summer to massacre mice at night. Then she stopped going out at all.

For the first few years of her not going outside, she used the litter box, but still pee’d in the areas where there had been pee before, despite all the enzyme whatever cleaners we used. The carpet at the time was an old orange shag that came with our house so it was impossible to clean and then even after we replaced it, she’d still go to the same spots. Then we tried putting the litter boxes in those spots and she just picked new spots, so we took her to the vet to see if she had something wrong with her like an infection or kidney problems or something. He tested her urine, felt her abdomen, declared her healthy and that she was just being a shithead feral cat. (Our vet is more of a dog person.)

So for years, me and the kids (but not Blake because he wants no part in animal care) have been cleaning up after this cat who only uses the litter box when the planets are aligned just right and the Earth’s at a specific angle and it’s a full moon because what else are we going to do? There are four litter boxes in my house full of Cat Attract cat litter and she’s only used them three times and we can’t figure out why those three times, but I’m getting ahead of myself…

Something we realized early on is that the cat disliked messes. If a towel was left on the floor, she pee’d on it. If a piece of clothing was on the floor, she’d pee on it. If someone left their bag leaned up against the couch but on the floor, there was a good chance she’d pee on it. The only person in the house who seemed to not understand this or simply didn’t care, was Madison.

As is often the case with teenagers, Madison’s room was never clean, and it wasn’t for lack of trying to keep it that way. Wes is the neat and tidy kid whose room is organized and Madison’s always been a force of nature with a room to match. Unfortunately, Pixel chose Madison as her “person” and Madison’s room as her dog-free, quiet place to hang out. She also chose Madison’s room as her own personal litter box because Madison’s room was always chaos with everything thrown on the floor and garbage in her bed.

Madison’s room has been clean one day per week, just enough to collect allowance, since forever and she didn’t tell us most of the times the cat pee’d in her room or on her things, she’d just leave a layer of clothes detritus on her floor at all times for the cat to pee on and then on Friday Chores Day, throw it all in the washing machine and pretend nothing ever happened. What she either didn’t realize or didn’t care about was that this was actually soaking into her carpet.

During this time, Madison was also entering that phase of the teen years where you close your door 24/7 because you’re either in your room hiding from your parents or you don’t want your parents snooping through your shit when you’re gone, so combine the fact that Madison was not cleaning up after the cat in her own room, where the cat was primarily peeing and she never opened her door, we never really knew the full scope of the damage until Madison moved out in May and the room was mostly empty except for garbage and items the cat had pee’d on and Madison didn’t want to take.

I won’t lie. Madison moving out affected me. I didn’t see it coming because our relationship was fine and I was choosing to trust her to do the things she promised to do and honour the agreements she made, but she didn’t and rather than be an honourable person, she decided to run away from her own compromises. That was disappointing to me, but again, like I said in the beginning, it’s her life and it’s hers to live.

During the stress of Madison leaving, I went in her room a lot and every time I was in there, I was astounded at how bad she had let her floor get with cat pee. It was evident to me that before we do anything with that room, we needed to redo the floor with laminate flooring or something that the cat can’t ruin, especially in case Madison came home. She 17. In my mind that means that we have one more year where we are obligated to provide for her a clean, safe place to sleep and I needed that room to be that for her.

I expressed this to my husband and a fight ensued. He wanted to know why Madison’s room took precedence over the living room, which he claimed was just as bad (not by a long shot), when she didn’t even live here anymore and he and Wes were in there all day, every day? I told him I felt like a bad mom, which to me should have been the end of it. I wanted to rip up the carpet and put laminate flooring in Madison’s room and then deep clean the living room carpet. He disagreed. Said we couldn’t afford it (which I thought was bullshit because we had just been talking about renovating my office weeks prior). I e-mailed my mother to get her advice and she wrote back the next day saying to rip up the carpet and deep clean the living room. I took that to mean “do Madison’s room” and thought that’d be the end of it.

Later that night, after Blake came home from work, I asked if we could go out for sushi. I had completed a colouring page by its deadline by the skin of my teeth and wanted to celebrate. (Apparently I didn’t actually voice that, which may or may not be true.)

While we were sitting in the parking lot, he brought up my mom’s e-mail and we had a heated fight about the issue again. I had been in the mood to celebrate and him picking a fight with me at that moment made me explode with rage, especially since I thought my mom’s reply was pretty clear on the order in which to do things and what the priorities were. Blake actually left me at the restaurant and drove around the block because I got up in his face and threatened to beat the shit out of him when we got home, which was just an anger threat, as if I could even beat him up and as if I’d still be mad by the time we got home.

He came and got me and we drove home in silence. That night I raged because I felt Blake had picked a fight and now I had to be left to deal with my own personal fallout an hour before I needed to be asleep so I could get up for work at 5am the next morning. I called my mom and all she did, as per usual, is make the situation worse by Saint Blaking me to death. She told me if I wanted the floor done that I should get in the car and go to the flooring store with the measurements and have them do it. She said this knowing full well that I’m mentally ill, specifically AGORAPHOBIC, afraid of driving and CAN’T do things like that, so this is the kind of help my mom gives. It’s not even help it’s just further antagonism so I don’t know why I ever bothered and will never make that mistake again.

After she suggested that I was so exasperated because it was just such a shitty, unhelpful thing to say that I slammed the phone against the wall 3 times until I broke the display. Blake thought I was throwing things around and he decided he was going to take Wes and stay at my mom’s that night.

When I woke up the next morning I was still mad. What I didn’t realize was that I wasn’t in my right mind because when you’re crazy, you don’t actually know you’re crazy. Along with agoraphobia, I also have bipolar disorder I and generalized anxiety disorder and I was in what I now know to be a “mixed state”, where you’re depressed and manic at the same time. In me, I guess this manifests as anger.

Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but in looking back, this was a long time coming. I had pretty much been without any mental health support for about a year, after my old shrink (who I really liked) retired and the new shrink the mental health centre assigned me was a pill dispensing automaton. She had advised me to try going off of my 2nd antidepressant, Cipralex, which had side effects I couldn’t deal with, before trying something else, so for the few months leading up to this situation, I was depressed and suicidal and everyone and their brother knew it but very few people seemed to even notice that I was slipping.

That morning I didn’t go to work. I had a shower and put on clean clothes with the conscious thought that “I may end up somewhere by the end of this”. Then I began loading everything Blake owned into garbage bags and dragged them all out to the driveway for his convenience because I wanted to show him how serious I was about this floor thing that shouldn’t have even been a fight yet somehow was.

I had just come in from taking the last load out when Blake messaged me on AIM, trying to talk. By that point I was beyond talking to. I was beyond rational. I was in a mixed state and in need of antipsychotics. And he was still fighting me on this floor thing. I told him not to come home unless it was to pick up his shit and started talking about how the house was mine. I told him if he showed up here I would have to call the police. He said he was on his way, sooooooooo…I called the police, thinking he was in the town 20 minutes away rather than my mom’s town an hour away.

When I called 911 I told them I needed police dispatch because I had some questions. I wanted to know if it would be possible for officers could be present so the fight didn’t escalate. And by escalate and I do mean violence because when I get like this I break shit and throw shit and could hurt you. When the lady on the other end of the phone asked if I felt I was in danger I said no, but I thought Blake might be. She told me, and please remember this because it’s important, that, “yes, officers are often called just to come keep the peace” and she said she’d send someone out.

When the cops got here I asked them to look at Madison’s room and tell Blake that it would be child abuse for her to move back into that room should she decide to come home. They’re the cops, surely they know what’s acceptable living quarters for a kid and what’s not. They weren’t interested in that. They wanted to know what started this whole thing, so I started telling them about the fight the night before and the one cop asked if any threats had been made. I said I didn’t think so. He asked me if I was sure, I was like, “not that I remember”. He asked a third time, and I said, “well I may have threatened to kill him in his sleep or something that I obviously didn’t mean” and that’s when both cops’ eyes lit up and they both said “WHOA WHOA WHOA” and stopped listening to me. The main cop, Officer Black, started lecturing me on how the police aren’t marriage counsellors and when I tried to defend myself and tell him that HIS OWN DISPATCH told me differently and that was the only reason they were there, he shot me down and said, “look, you’re probably gonna have to get a divorce if it’s gotten to the point of death threats” and I started unravelling right then and there. He told me they were going to charge me with uttering a death threat and that they were going to take me to jail. I said, “why? Why? What is that going to prove? That is a CHOICE,” I explained how I was mentally ill and had never been in trouble with the police before (on paper) so what on Earth did he think he would be accomplishing by making me go through all that? How was that helping this situation in any conceivable way? I said, “it sure sounds like you boys are all about bros before hos.” Officer Black didn’t like that.

After they stopped listening to me, my ears stopped hearing them, but I heard “need a divorce” from the lips of Officer Black’s mouth no less than 3 times and “jail” more times than that. Those two words echoed in my head and I became fixated on them. I don’t really know what happened next because for part of it I was definitely not in my right mind, part of it I just don’t remember and the rest I’ve only pieced together from things Blake or my lawyer’s said or I’ve heard in court and everyone’s versions of events are different. All I know is that the cops just up and left and said they’d be back and then Blake texted me 20 mins later that he was at the police station. Then I swallowed a metric fuck tonne of pills, went to sleep and tried to die.

MEANWHILE….Blake’s at the police station trying to explain to these backwoods idiot cops that this is not a domestic dispute, this is a mental health crisis. That when I told dispatch, when asked whose safety I was concerned with, I answered Blake’s, I meant because I was afraid it would escalate like that time I hit him with an axe handle a few days before we found out 3 days later I was pregnant and hormonal crazy on top of what we now know was undiagnosed/medicated mental illness. “Ooooooh,” said Officer Black, as Blake ended that story, “tell us more. *strokes chin*”

So as examples of WHAT I WAS TRYING TO AVOID BY CALLING THE COPS because he knows me and knows exactly what was happening, Blake tells them about the 3 brain chemistry related epic fights we had within the first 3 years of our 13 year marriage, PRIOR to diagnosis and medication, which ended up with me hitting him with something (axe handle, pregnant, which if I remember correctly, started with, “if you come near me I’m gonna fucking hit you with this,” and making good on the threat; then one time I hit him with a plastic juice pitcher after I didn’t get the desired effect from pouring ice water on him from it while he was sleeping and I was still raging over the fight we had a few hours before and I was pissed he COULD sleep) or destroyed property (one time we had a DEFINITE mental illness related fight that resulted in me taking his comics and ripping them all up and then when he said, “whatever! Go ahead!” and started ripping them up right along with me, I got pissed, grabbed his heavy ass guitar, took it outside and smashed it against a snowbank in the backyard until he asked me if I was done).

That’s when the cops say, “oh thanks for telling us all this horrific yet super old shit, we’re gonna charge your wife with assault with weapons and uttering death threats despite the fact that A) you told us she never said what she said she said and B) we were just told she was sent to the hospital after attempting suicide”.

NOPE. NOT A MENTAL HEALTH SITUATION AT ALL, GUYS!

“Oh and there’s gonna be a ‘no contact’ order so you guys can’t see each other until after she goes to jail and then court.”

Instead of neutralizing the situation, Officer Black antagonized me while in an agitated state and escalated the situation because he’s had no mental health training, but I’ll get to that later.

Apparently when I was in the psych ward at the hospital, it was completely illegal for Blake to come see me but I had no idea and neither did the hospital. Apparently because of the ‘no contact’ order, after I was discharged from the hospital, I was supposed be picked up by the police and taken to jail until my court date, but instead, Blake picked me up and I got to spend two days at home recalibrating and hiring a lawyer before surrendering myself to the police on the Friday.

That Friday, I went to the police station and was photographed and fingerprinted. I was in such shell shock that I can’t even tell you a single thing while I was there other than the following:

  • They don’t fingerprint you with ink anymore, they scan your fingers. It’s pretty cool.
  • When I asked why Officer Black escalated the situation rather than diffuse it, he said he didn’t and that his partner would back up anything he said. I asked him if he’d had any mental health training and he said no. When I told him maybe he should get some, he said, “ehn” and sorta shrugged. I’ve since learned that mental health training is available to them all but it’s voluntary. Oh and I did thank Officer Black for failing utterly at his job.

The plan was that I was surrendering myself to the police so I’d be processed first thing in the morning, before their bus thing left for the courthouse, have my day at court, ideally have the charges and the ‘no contact’ order thrown out and if not, have Blake be my assurity (post bail in Canadian) until the lawyer sorted it out and that would be the end of it. Blake hired our own lawyer rather than relying on duty counsel.

I go the courthouse in the back of the police bus by myself, in cuffs and they unload me and other buses of “prisoners” at the back of the building and put us in cells, 5 to a cell, segregated by gender. They cut the strings from my hoodie because they wouldn’t pull out. “Cut ‘em or take it off,” the lady guard said. *snip* I was allowed to keep my shoes because they didn’t have laces but the girls in my cell were wearing government-issued stringless shoes that didn’t fit any of them.

The cell was thick, white-painted brick walls, with a little waist high divider for the toilet and two wooden benches. I sat on the floor and let the other girls fight over the benches. I just kept my eyes in my lap and cried because this is a fucked up situation for anyone but you have to understand that I don’t leave my house or go anywhere or even have a doctor’s appointment by myself and haven’t for a very long time because I have massive phobias and anxiety.

The loudmouth of the girls in my cell said, “you don’t belong here, why are you here”, not as a question but more as a matter of fact. I told her I threatened to kill my husband because up until that point that’s all I knew I was being charged with. “Ya shoulda fuckin’ done it,” she said, and then started yelling out the bars of our cell to her real life boyfriend who was in the cell across from us.

They gave us ham sandwiches and juice boxes. The sandwiches were good. The juice boxes were juice boxes.

They called my name and I put my hands through the slot in the cell door, they handcuffed me and let me to a little room made out of thin drywall where I met my lawyer for the first time. Her name was Angela and we picked her because she had a dog on her website. It’s always good to go with the ones with animals on their sites for shrinks and lawyers, just as a general life rule. She told me about the assault with weapons charges and that Blake couldn’t be my assurity because of the ‘no contact’ order and I’m like, I’m being charged with WHAT? What assault? WHAT? And when she read the cop’s report I was like, “you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me”. She told me not to worry (don’t they always say that?), that Blake was trying to get a hold of my best friend Alex to come and be my assurity so I didn’t have to spend the weekend in jail. Then I’m taken back to the cell and I take my seat on the floor, start crying again. I’d smuggled in two Kleenexes, which were sopping wet. The loudmouth girl said, “how’d it go?” so I told her what I was being charged with and why. She said, “see? I told ya you shoulda killed him.”

There was an older lady sitting on the bench across from me and she tried distracting me from the horrors of jail by telling me of its highlights, “it’s like summer camp!” she promised. I asked her what they let you have there, meaning like, paper, a pencil, a book, an ipod….”Nothing,” she answered. Oh.

They called my name again. Cuffs again. Taken to the little room again. While I waited for my lawyer to show up on the other side of the glass, I could hear people talking to their lawyers in the little rooms on either side of me. Angela shows up, says she has good news. They couldn’t use Alex for assurity because she happened to be in Militiagan at the time visiting her husband’s family “but don’t worry, Blake called your mom and she’s on her way.” I was equal parts happy and horrified.

Eventually I’m taken in cuffs to the courtroom. They sat me in a little box to the side of the court with bullet-proof glass on half of it and words were said and my mom was there and she was looking at me sometimes but Blake wasn’t (I figured they told him not to make contact with me and I was right). The charges were read out and it was made so that I couldn’t go anywhere without my mom and I had to live at her house until the ‘no contact’ order was lifted. My court date was for 6 weeks later.

Without going into the gory details because if you know me at all or have read things I’ve written before, you know that my mom had me when she was 15 and my childhood was not an easy one. I was legally emancipated from my parents when I was 15, with the help of the government, because they felt it was in my better interest to be left to my own defenses than be “parented” by either people claiming the title. This doesn’t happen when you come from a “nice family” or a “good home”.

My mother and I get along fabulously as long as the topic of my childhood is avoided at all costs because her version of events and my memories are not the same. Naturally, because this was a mental health situation, which is generally linked to my childhood and family history, the subject was gonna come up if I had to stay with her and I was so worried that it was going to ruin all the progress we’d made over the years to finally get along. I don’t care what she says, she was a shitty “kid mom”, she just was, and I blame it completely on the fact that she was a kid too and we were raised in a difficult family by difficult and mentally ill people, but as an “adult mom” and grama to my kids, she and her fiancé have been pretty great.

I was grateful. My mom saved my ass from jail. She can scratch that off her bucket list! Blake left the courthouse to pack stuff for me to stay at my mom’s house for an indefinite amount of time, my mom and I signed paperwork and then we met him at a Tim Hortons where he gave me my stuff and I went to live with my mom. When my mom saw my webcam attached to my 2nd monitor, she turned up her nose and said “just what do you think you’re going to be needing that for?” as if I was a 25 year old camgirl camming from my bedroom in my mom’s house and it was any of her business. “Uh, for Skype training? Work meetings?” because at the time I was at the end of training three people every morning for several months at my actual job, that is a for real thing, that I do from home, with real people, for real dollars and we do have weekly work meetings via webcam. This is the world in which I function. It is very different from my mom’s.

When he got home, my mom’s fiancé was livid. He has a temper and spent the evening outside screaming at her under my window about how I couldn’t stay there which is exactly what I needed two days after getting out of the psych ward and then a cell, when the world was still so fucking bright and noisy and I was still so raw. As they fought, I set my stuff up in her sun room and cried because I was in the 2nd last place I wanted to be, with someone screaming about basically what a burden and inconvenience I am after I just tried to kill myself and those are common themes among mentally ill people when they rationalize suicide. And I better not be using their internet! I better not be using their internet because I will inevitably go over their bandwidth usage! Wanna know how much it costs in data in this country to work from home for a technology company when your sole internet is tethering your phone for 10 days? Cuz I can tell you!

Eventually he came around but it was made pretty clear that if I made so much as a peep or affected his life in any way, he’d shit on our collective heads so I walked on eggshells the whole time and stayed in my room as much as possible. We tried but my mom and I just didn’t get along. It felt like she kept picking fights with me and food policing and gaslighting and it was pretty clear that this was not a healthy environment for me so while grateful for her help and shelter, I was greatly anticipating Alex’s return to Canada so I could go live with her instead.

I don’t want to seem like a shithead who doesn’t appreciate what her mother did for her, I don’t, at the end I was reluctant to leave her because I wasn’t sure if I was ready to adult by myself, but after about 10 days, finally Alex was home and we went to court and “custody” was transferred from my mom to Alex and it was just like fucking “hallelujah”.

Alex’s was better because she lived in the city closest to my house, my house that I could no longer go to because Blake lives there, but also closest to all of the mental health services I was going to need. Alex and her husband, Ronny, and I think her dad too, cleared out a room for me in the basement with a desk, a bed and a shelf. I had a mini fridge that I brought in and kept cheese, milk and Diet Coke in and I lived on that, cereal and peanut butter and banana sandwiches because I could make those in my room and didn’t have to go upstairs to the kitchen and have uncomfortable conversations with Alex’s dad, who I barely knew.  I also ate out with Ronny and Alex a lot, most specifically veggie sushi and tuna subs from Mr. Sub so I could get fresh protein and vegetables. I couldn’t keep a lot in my fridge because the temperature was wonky and it froze almost everything you put on the top shelf. It was the same fridge my grampa gave me when Madison was about a year old and my big fridge died and it was old then. No wonder it died like, 4 days before I ended up going home.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I was worried about staying at Alex’s, especially knowing that I’d be there for so long I mean, at the time it was August and the crown (Canadian District Attorney, works for da Queen) and my lawyer were talking about October. I was going to miss another summer. I was going to spend my summer in a strange basement, which is not the best place for me because one of the known things about my mental health is that my delicate butterfly moods do change, not with the weather as they say, but with the light. The less daylight I get per day, the more depressed I get, the more grey days in a row, the more suicidal the thoughts become. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder pretty terribly and even with a special lightbox, winters are hellacious and it’s because of the light. To combat this, we bought two lamps for the room with 100 watt full spectrum bulbs and I think they helped a lot. I still needed to go outside every few days, but I don’t think I was as affected by being in the basement as much as I was afraid I’d be.

Dealing with my mental health centre was a nightmare, but I did get a new shrink. Blake’s been managing my pills ever since I started taking pills because it’s been so complicated over the years and I am terrified of screwing them up or running out that it’s just safer for everyone if he does it. For 9 years, he has been calling both the mental health centre and the pharmacy to deal with pills, so when they were only dispensing me pills seven days at a time due to my suicide attempt and not communicating with him for reasons we still don’t even understand, it was problematic because I was living at my mom’s, an hour and a half away from my pharmacy and unable to get pills in my mom’s town because it was highly likely my mom would withhold my pills from me so I’d have no choice but to go get them myself, which is like giving me a mensa puzzle when I’m still on jigsaws, it’s timed, and the stakes are life or death. Despite the ‘no contact’ order, Blake was going to get my pills and bring them to my mom to give to me, until I could get transferred to Alex’s, and doing it every seven days – on multiple days – when I was so far away and not a suicide threat was asinine. And then the new shrink wouldn’t prescribe me my 2nd antidepressant, the one the prior shitty shrink told me to try going off of but if I couldn’t hack it to go back on it so two months prior to the suicide attempt, I had started taking 5mg of it daily. The hospital didn’t write it in their paperwork even though I was taking it there so I guess the mental health centre…didn’t believe me? Shitty shrink didn’t write it in my file? I’m not sure but for whatever reason, they wouldn’t believe Blake when he told them I needed it and when I left a message for the new shrink on their medline saying that I needed it, she didn’t prescribe it to me. So does that make ANY sense to you? Let’s deprive the depressed, displaced, suicidal girl going through legal hell of her antidepressant for no reason! *slow clap*

Rather than Blake just talking to the front desk, they tried to get a social nurse (whatever that is) and their director involved until I e-mailed the director and was just like, forget it, I guess I’ll go without my medication, make sure the paperwork for the mental health centre to talk to Blake about meds is there for me to sign when I see my new shrink in September.

Then trying to get the new shrink to write a proper letter for the courts as to my diagnoses and prognosis was like pulling teeth. I had to have my lawyer contact them, like for some reason they didn’t believe that this was real and that I actually had a lawyer and I could go to jail, and then Ronny had to drive me to their office 45 minutes away so I could sign another release form, get a copy of the letter and then come home, scan it and e-mail it to my lawyer within a span of about two hours or we wouldn’t have it in time for court.

The letter gave my history of mental illness and said that I would be seeing the new shrink for pharmacological monitoring but that I needed to seek a therapist or group therapy for more cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which I was already way ahead of because obviously this mental health centre had failed me over the course of the past year with the shrink they stuck me with, after my old one retired, not doing her fucking job leading to this exact predicament, so I knew I needed outside non-government help. I found an art therapist in the area who incorporates CBT into her practice and as of now I’ve already seen her five times. The letter from my shrink recommended four months of CBT every two weeks, which thankfully our insutrance covers 90% of because after paying for my internet while I was at my mom’s and the lawyer, and cutting my hours by 1/3 AND we need a new roof or we lose 1/3 of our house plus the furnace, we’re pretty screwed for a while. Woulda been cheaper to just do the floor.

So that basically brings me up to present. On Tuesday, October 13th I pled guilty to one count of mischief for breaking Blake’s guitar. I was given a conditional discharge, the conditions of which are that I do what my shrink said in her letter, report to a probation officer once a month for the next 11 months with a receipt from my art therapist and I have to pay $100 to a victim’s fund of some sort that I am happy to pay because I’ve seen it legit help people with my own eyes. That’s a fantastic use of my money. I have no criminal record and I have never been convicted of a crime. Blake signed a piece of paper at the probation office that broke the contact order so I’m back home now. I have two ombudsmen I can lodge complaints to regarding the lack of mental health training for OPP officers and the lack of mental health care I’ve received over the last year from the mental health centre I’ve been going to for nine years. Normally I’d be okay with getting away with my hide but we live in an area with a high incidence of mental illness because we’re a catchall community for one of the province’s largest psychiatric institutions and just a few years ago, a mentally ill man was shot in my town of 2000 people by an OPP officer. Maybe if that cop would have had mental health training the mentally ill man would have been tased instead and alive today. I mean, it just makes sense when they’re going to potentially be dealing with a higher incidence of mentally ill people that the police have some kind of mandatory training in dealing with them. That’s just the basics for knowing how to serve and protect a community, wouldn’t you think?

While I was gone, Blake tore up Madison’s carpet and underneath was fucking LINOLEUM! Practically impenetrable to cat urine! Then he took a class at Home Depot on how to install wood laminate flooring and with the help of the neighbour’s saw, Madison’s floor is pretty close to being finished and Wes is ready to move into the bigger room and then Blake’s going to put his office in Wes’ current bedroom. Wes wants his room to be orange but Blake “talked him into” a light blue room. I don’t see why it can’t be like, white on two walls and orange on the other two or something. He’s going to be in it for 6 more years, might as well make it his own.

As for Madison, we’re celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend and she’s “too busy” to come after not speaking to me since I tried to kill myself. She says she’s “punishing” me for what I “did” to Wes in trying to commit suicide, despite the  fact that everyone has told her that Wes and I are fine and Wes even asked her a long ago not to “punish” me on his behalf. I’ve reached out to her three or four times in the last two and a half months but nothing. She and Blake were the only people I said goodbye to when I decided to swallow the pills, Madison via Facebook messenger. She told Blake she thought I was just being melodramatic.  She’s “liked” three or four different things I’ve said or posted on Facebook so I know that not all is lost and she just needs her space right now.

A lot of you have probably been screaming the whole time, “WHAT ABOUT THE FUCKING CAT? Why didn’t you get rid of the cat?” and I ask you, dear reader, do YOU want her and can YOU promise me you’re going to give her a good life? We can’t take her to the shelter, they’re all kill shelters and the ones that aren’t only take strays. Who is going to adopt a cat at the end of her life who has a peeing problem? (Although we do think that if she lived in a house with no other pets she might actually be okay.) We can’t put her down, she’s mentally ill. *I* am mentally ill and I sure hope no one would euthanize me if I started peeing in undesirable areas. We offer this cat to everyone we meet, we even offer to pay people to take her with the agreement that we’ll take care of her financially for the rest of her life, but she just can’t live here. No takers. We’re willing to pay someone to take the cat AND fly her anywhere in Canada. Nope, not a one will take us up on the offer. We live in Northern-ish Ontario, she looks like she’s got the coat for it, but she can’t just become an outdoor cat. We got our first snow this morning.

I wish I could find her a cat sanctuary like the kind my friend Phaedie works for. Phaedie is this magical cat lady who works for RAPS (Richmond Animal Protection Society). She takes care of hundreds of cats every day, almost none of which are adoptable because they’re mostly strays and ferals. She tells me that sometimes, especially with ferals, some cats are just pissers. It’s just their nature. Not all cats are good cats. Pixel doesn’t even clean herself. What kind of cat doesn’t clean herself? A cat that just doesn’t cat right, that’s what kind and that’s the kind I’ve got and we have to do something about. I tried to kill myself, essentially because of this animal, it’s pretty literally her or me at this point. We’ve tried pheromone sprays, cat attracting cat litter, putting the litter boxes in every conceivable place, keeping every piece of minutiae off the floor and every single thing anyone has suggested we try. The only thing we haven’t tried because I think it’s pretty extreme to do to a 9 year old cat, is crate training. The fact of the matter is, she is never going to use a litter box in this house on any consistent basis. That is just a fact.

So, what do I do with this cat? How do I find her a place where she can live the rest of her life happy and at peace? How do I still honour the contract I entered when I told her as a kitten that I’d take care of her for the rest of her life, for better or for worse and not lose my shit completely? I don’t know, but if anyone else does, I’m all ears.

December 4, 2014

No and I don’t know.

Yesterday was Touched By Fire.

I finished work at noon and had between then and 3:30pm to roll enough joints for the night, figure out where to eat, co-ordinate all this with my mom and get myself ready, which not only often involves multiple wardrobe changes, but more importantly, well-timed pharmaceuticals, and I was freaking at twelve-oh-one because I didn’t know where to start. I started by rolling joints and listening to bad hip hop because medication of all kinds is the most important thing to not leave the house with and I’ve been known to take a VERY long time to do this, even with a rolling machine, so yeah, started there. As I got to about my 2nd (of a planned 5) joint, Blake got home with lunch from Fresh-A-Fare, which I had really really wanted when I asked him to bring it home half an hour prior, but since I hadn’t had a ton of time to actually medicate between then and when he got home, my stomach just wasn’t ready for it so we ended up leaving it in the fridge for Wes for dinner if he wanted it, which he would because it was a ham and cheese sandwich and turkey with wild rice soup and he eats like me, so he’d be all about it.

As Blake ate and I rolled, we watched Once Upon a Story in Wonderland because it’s free on this trial Netflix type deal we have right now, and when the episode was over, Blake went to the bathroom to start getting read and I so, so stupidly checked e-mail and Facebook. And that is how I learned that my friend, Jeff Depew, the drummer from Scratching Post, had passed away. As some of you know, I was sort of the band’s first unofficial mascot/panty girl/merch bitch who did a lot of touring with them and became very good friends with everyone involved. I was/am shocked and saddened by the news of Jeff’s passing and however it happened, it is my hope that it was peaceful. I found out at around 2:30pm and had to be out the door at 3:30pm. At first I almost didn’t go. Just didn’t feel like partying or having a good time or being social. Then I almost went in overalls, which in hindsight I probably should have, it’s what I’d originally wanted to wear, but I settled on the same thing I wore on our attempt to see Book of Mormon, which had been thwarted by a blizzard so the outfit had never been seen before.

It took me half an hour to do my makeup because makeup won’t stick to tears, no matter how much primer you try to use. I’m a very simple lipstick-top-lid-eyeliner-one colour of shadow-mascara kinda gal. Makeup usually takes 10 mins, tops.

Anyway, traffic was hellacious and it was becoming apparent that we’d be late, so I texted my mom who said they were running late too, which I figured because that’s how my mother rolls. We get to the parking lot and it’s 100 km away from the restaurant we were meeting at and it’s blowing snow and I’m in a skirt. That walk made me so unhappy, especially since at the time my mother kept texting me from the restaurant about stuff as I’m trying not to get hit by cars or drop my phone or get it wet. Finally I literally told her to “stfu lol” and eventually we got to the restaurant.

We went to this St. Louis Grill place that I don’t think I’d ever bother with again unless I had to. Typical chain, with tiny across-from-Skydome Toronto portions and prices. I did eat a piece of macaroni and cheese wrapped in bacon and deep-fried that was pretty wonderful but I forgot to bring enzymes with me and really really should not be eating something like that anyway.

After eating, we went to the show. I went there. I saw that my painting was in the very back corner in the dark where it belonged. I looked at everyone else’s stuff, some good, some not so good but overall WAY better selections than previous years, then I parked my ass at the bar where I could see people looking at my painting (but turned my back to it because I couldn’t look) and see when they did the speeches. Speeches were uneventful except that this year there were prizes and our old friend from town here, Brian, won an honourable mention in his category and his girlfriend won best of show for her category.

After the speeches and awards and stuff, the place cleared out pretty fast. It wasn’t like previous years at all. See, something happened. I don’t know what but last fall there was some drama surrounding the show and suddenly touchedbyfire.CA was NOT the place to go, but touchedbyfire.CO and there was a mad scramble to get sponsors and find a space. It seemed like too much drama for me so I didn’t enter. This year it was run with the same group as last year and I noticed a lot of familiar artist faces missing, which seemed odd to me. I mean, this show has its regulars and I didn’t see two of its most prominent ones represented there last night. The bust for Rebecca Burkhardt, the person in whose remembrance this event takes place, was also missing, or at least I didn’t see it anywhere. Her dad was there though.

Before we left the show, Blake and John went around the room to see if anything had sold and only 2 things had, one being the most inexpensive piece in the show.

While the quality of work this year was definitely better, the experience wasn’t. There was no printed catalogue, which is really the only reason I go, just printed postcards with instructions for people to use their phones to take pictures of the QR codes beneath them or whatever they’re called, to pull up basically this page. That makes sense for the paintings being up in the gallery for a month but the show should have had a printed catalogue, especially since if I sell my piece, I’m giving them 20% and I want certain things, like show catalogues, for them to deserve that 20%. There were also no name tags for artists which was a mixed blessing. Every other year I turn mine around as not to be identified but this year I was trying to get up the courage to actually speak to people, to sell that damn thing, and them approaching me first would have been better.

The show’s been running 8 years, my first time was the 2nd year and I think I’ve been in it a total of 5 times. Last night marked only the 2nd time I’d submitted anything that was actually for sale and I really really need to sell this piece or make money from it somehow, in order to complete my next project before I get frustrated by money and logistics that I give up.

Anyway, here’s my painting and what I wore and how far away I was away from my painting at all times. THE END.

PS. I also invited my brother and his girlfriend to dinner and the show but he never even replied. I have no idea why, I haven’t done anything to him and we haven’t had a fight, so wtf? This hurts me a lot more than it should and was on my mind all night.

PPS. If you want to buy my painting, help me make BETTER art and see my awesome artist statement, click here.

July 14, 2014

People are strange, when you’re a stranger…

Thursday was my grama’s funeral. Wait, lemme back up.

Last Friday my mom called Blake and told him that my grama was going to pass either that evening or in the morning and that she didn’t need me there. Somewhere in the communication, I was told it was okay to go though, and I decided I did want to and I wanted my brother to come with me because whether or not my mom needed him, I was pretty sure I did. My Aunt Sandra and her husband John (who is my uncle obviously, but I’ve never called him “Uncle John”, so he’s always just been “John”) were there, along with my Aunt Betty. I hadn’t seen my Aunt Sandra or John in a really long time so I had no idea how that would go and my brain was pinging like crazy with like, PTSD type shit about my grama being on her deathbed in a hospital the same week I’d already been pinging because there is still some traumatic residue from being on my own deathbed 3 years prior. And obviously there’s just the scariness of death and the fact that this would be THE absolute last time I saw my grama ever in my life and she would not be the same lady I hung out with a couple of months ago on her last birthday.

I forget why but my mom texted me from HER finance John’s phone (yep, I’m gonna confuse you with 2 Johns; let’s call them M’John and S’John for “mom’s John” and “Sandra’s John” unless you can think of anything better) as she doesn’t have a phone of her own and she told me that I shouldn’t come to the hospital but lady, I just got out of the shower soooooo too late! If I had a WHOLE SHOWER, it’s serious business. I told her that I had a lot of things in my head from when I was sick that I would rather replace with something more like love and she said that she wanted my last memories of my grama to be spending the day with her on her birthday and I told her I’ll remember what I wanted to remember. And I didn’t say this to HER at the time because it wasn’t the time, but I didn’t want the first death I face as an adult head on to be HERS and my grama’s situation seemed pretty unscary by all accounts. (I was told she was sleeping.) So my mom said okay and I told her that Chad was coming with me and she said okay and by that time Blake had gotten home from work so we left to pick my brother up in Toronto.

To give my family privacy, I won’t describe the scene at the hospital despite really really wanting to. What I will say was that my grama really was just sleeping and she seemed peaceful (but not dreaming) and as things came to me about my own stay in the hospital, I asked my mom questions. For example, my grama was wearing an oxygen mask and I wondered if it was the same kind as I had when I was at St. Mike’s and as it turned out, I had multiple masks, breathing tubes and the trache which just lead to more questions but I didn’t want to bombard my mom completely. My Aunt Sandra and S’John and Aunt Betty left the room and my mom asked Blake, my brother and me if we wanted to say goodbye to my grama. I declined. My brother held her hand and said he thought his goodbye to her. Blake held her shoulder and told her not to worry because he’d always take care of me and the kids. She did not respond to either of them. I declined specifically because I didn’t want her to hear my voice and stay longer than she needed to because it was familiar and because our last conversation in May went like this:

{hugging}
Grama, raspy, breathless voice, crying and like, legit concerned:
Don’t even forget about me, Sarah.
Me, sort of stunned that she thought I *could*, whisper in her ear:
I could neeeeever. I love you. Thank you for everything.
Grama, crying harder:
You’re welcome, you’re welcome.

…and nothing at a hospital could replace that goodbye, for me, we said it. That was it. And this is what she looked like, wearing the birthday tiara I brought for her that day:

That day I brought her a trillium from the forest that I’d dug up the day before because it was kind of a thing between us:

Anyway, she died Saturday, around noon and like, everything between that moment and Thursday is basically one big giant blur of unadulterated panic because I would be seeing certain people for the first time in about a decade and I wasn’t sure who exactly or how they would be to me, but I did know my molester would be there. The one I’d said I’d forgiven but I guess that was just a lie I told myself to try and make it through the funeral because if it were true, I wouldn’t have been freaking out so fucking hard about just looking at him and being triggered. Blake promised me he wouldn’t be an issue. I decided to believe him because I didn’t see that I had any other choice.

Molester sat in the pew behind me, right behind my brother who knows nothing of this whole thing because we’d be in danger of having to bury two people that day if he knew. I just saw his oh-so-familiar profile out of the corner of my eye, pointed him out to Blake and then the funeral started. (Which was super traditional for our family and at a funeral home, not the “simple” graveside service I was expecting.)

When the priest lady or whatever she was, was done her funeral stuff and we were to exit into the salon rooms for food, they went from the front row back and I was in the second row. Blake switched spots with me and I didn’t really understand why, but he told me afterward that with the way it looked like the rows were exiting, molester would have been right behind me if Blake didn’t switch with me. So. Close call. Also I guess when I stopped before entering the salon rooms, Blake said it looked like molester was going to approach me so Blake stood between me and his line of sight.

I have never felt so out of body in my whole life than at this funeral. I was so completely unaware of my surroundings and who was around me. I just trusted Blake. I mostly spent the time eating sandwiches or looking at my shoes in the rectory area rather than deal with people in the salon rooms.

My Aunt Judy, her husband Uncle Clare and her brother, my Uncle Don were there, which I thought was sort of weird. My Aunt Judy lives pretty far away and they’re both from my grampa’s side of the family. My grama and grampa were long divorced before he died 11 years ago. I dunno, I guess it’s not weird, but I just wasn’t expecting them. I hadn’t seen either of them since my great grama Crittenden’s funeral and it was good to see them because I really like them both. I saw my cousin Terri was there (also my grampa’s side of the family) but I didn’t talk to her.

Near the end, we were about to leave and my molester’s brother started talking to Blake. I looked at my shoes because up until that moment, I thought my grama had told him what his brother had done to me and that’s why he was mean to me the last time we spoke. Then I heard, “Elmvale, eh? Near Wasaga Beach? Well maybe I’ll drop by sometime,” and I think my eyes probably got as big as saucers because the way he was talking sounded like my grama – despite all her threats and lies to the contrary – took my “secret” to her grave. Which is a very good thing.

After I got home from the funeral, I looked at Facebook and my cousin Cory (also grampa’s side, my Uncle Don’s son, around my age) reached out to me and sent his sympathies about my grama. I thanked him and said it was good to see his dad because I’ve always liked him and we both agreed that we should have some family time under better circumstances.

Then I was still confused about some things, so after I got my funeral clothes off and we’d been home for a little while, we got in the car and started heading in the direction of my mom’s, where we stayed and chatted for a  few hours and certain things about our family were…illuminated, and now I find myself wondering who my family is right now. Like, after this it feels like it might be bigger than I previously thought. For example, my Aunt Judy totally confessed to Facebook stalking me on a regular basis like a total creeper even though she “doesn’t use Facebook” haha That is SO my Aunt Judy, who I love to death, and who I would absolutely love to spend more time with.

I thought that when my grama died the family would fall apart, but from where I’m sitting now, it looks like my bubble at least, might be getting a little bigger.

July 2, 2014

Blake ate the misshapen fortune cookie.

Not sure I’m capable of a full post. Like. With paragraphs. I may just delete this line entirely.

I thought I was okay and then I saw this (which is awesome and I will read later, but you should read NOW…this post is a bummer and can totally wait) and it was like someone sucked all the air out of the room and I couldn’t breathe.

At least she waited until she probably knew I was done working or maybe she just waited as long as she  could, but this morning I got the first dated e-mail.

You can tell how serious or important something is by whether or not my mother’s dating the e-mails in the subject line.

Grandma. July 2 2014

Not unlike the e-mails people got 3 years ago this summer, “Sarah. July 2 2011”, events to which I had already been thinking about very recently, and as I figure I will for probably the rest of my life:

big sudden decline
grama (except she spells it right)’s been on oxygen since Thursday
increasingly more oxygen
now triple

{sarah reads: GRAMA CAN’T BREATHE, SHE MUST BE SCARED.}

palliative care asap
ps. no internet at grama’s. you may not hear from me until tomorrow.

Sarah pulls up her grama panties, e-mails back something pithy and decides priority 1 is that I e-mail work, tell them, again, that this time, for real this time, it’s gonna happen. I will need time off. I will e-mail with more info as I have it, here’s my schedule, thanks in advance. Luckily I am friends with everyone I work with, on some level anyway, and I’m not too terribly worried about work because I don’t think people have funerals on Saturdays and what are the odds she’ll die on my worst day? (Pretty good, actually, if the history of our relationship is any indication but it was work and I included our boss so I didn’t wanna get slap happy and umb out of shock or whatever, as I may be doing right now.) Time off no questions asked only happens for death and Xmas. I know my bosses would work my shifts if necessary. Both of them.

I am totally completely babbling but see? I’m wearing my grama panties. Work. The responsibility. The money. Priority 1. God I could throw up. I may throw up. The day is young and I am severely undermedicated. I’m betting my mom e-mailed her work/money/responsiblitiesthatarenotmygrama people before she e-mailed me, Blake and my brother. (Or she was wise enough not to take anything on in the first place.) We all have it, whatever it is. It’s AWFUL! No, scratch that, this is one form of crazy my brother was spared. My brother probably e-mailed her with “whatever you need, just tell me, I’ll be there” and like, wanting to be in the trenches and I guess I said that too, sort of, but my response may have included a colon, lowercase o and right parenthesis in succession. I also know for a fact that I am mentally incapable of going to palliative care and I don’t think anyone in the world would hold that against me. Or anyone who remotely mattered, anyway.

I got that far in my thoughts this morning before I had to stop. I thought about taking all my shit outside and working on my garden painting, y’know, IN my ditchweed butterfly wildflower keep off the fucking lawn garden as planned, or as I had planned all morning until I got that e-mail, but suddenly the rain expected at 1pm just had me making idle chatter with a friend who wanted to talk about weed (obviously) while I watched this awesomely shitty Lifetime series that is now on Netflix called Witches of East End and I had just finished the series 1 finale, knowing full well that season 2 was not on Netflix, and may not even exist so I had to come online to know, did it get cancelled? Because it was just SO awesomely shitty that I couldn’t imagine/really hoped there would be a season 2. I got as far as “set to premiere on July 6, 2014” on the Wikipedia page, stopped reading because I literally want to know nothing, and flipped to Facebook because okay, TV is over, now what?

oh. hi there “Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire“.

welcome, sheer fucking panic because I didn’t even think of clothes.

And then I came here because I couldn’t even get past the first paragraph of the article before having my worst panic attack in recent history.

I am good for one day of public viewing, unless it’s okay to wear the same thing multiple days in a row or it’s okay to wear white/off-white. (Is it?)
Madison will need clothes. As long as it doesn’t rain, we can work around her Docs.
Wes will need clothes from the ground up.
Blake would prefer no clothes, but has a few suits to choose mix/match/dowhateverboysdo from.
He will need shoes, an expense he’s needed for a while that I keep telling him to get that now he can’t put off. Although my grama might, if overhearing my inner debate as to whether or not he can get away with his orthopedic sandals, say, “oh! I don’t need it, I don’t need it”, because that is absolutely the very thing , when last I saw her, she would say. Ball’s in his court on that one. I’m wearing Docs.

Just texted my brother to make sure he has a suit. He’s a grown man, I probably don’t have to ask him this. Too late. Can’t take it back.

John & Chris are good.

That is all my people.

Everyone else can find their own canoe.

March 25, 2014

What’s your damage, soldier?

Woke up this morning at 4:15am like I always do, got up and went to the bathroom without turning the light on and as soon as I start peeing, I start gagging. I grab the garbage can to my right – in the dark – and sat on the toilet barfing into this garbage can on my lap almost until it was time to start work at 5am. Then working from 5am-8am went like this: answer 5 e-mails, run to the bathroom to throw up or just dry heave for 5-15 mins, repeat.

Blake put me to bed at 8am and I woke up about an hour ago (11:30am-ish) with pain in my pancreas so this is the beginning of a pancreatic attack. I’ve taken hydromorph and now that I’m not working I can medicate with cannabis so if I can keep the nausea/vomiting and pain under control, usually things won’t escalate.

What did this? From what I can tell, because I now have to write down every single thing I eat, it was simple cheese sauce from a packet on broccoli last night. I eat frozen Green Giant broccoli and cheese sauce all the time with no issue but lately the texture of their sauce has kinda grossed me out, so I wanted (what I call) “real” cheese sauce on real broccoli. So that’s what Blake made me. And now I kinda wanna die a little.

But hopefully with the hydromorph and cannabis it won’t escalate further.

I was screwing around with polymer clay on the weekend because I have an idea for a big clay project and I wanted to make sure polymer clay was the way to go. I hadn’t used it since I was a kid and man, this stuff has gotten so much nicer in the last 25 years! I remember the old Fimo was SO HARD and you had to work it in for like a million hours until your hands cramped up to be able to work with it, then they introduced soft Fimo but it was more expensive and too rich for my 10 year old blood. Then I lost interest in it until Sunday when we went to Michael’s and I spent the gift card my mom got me on the colours of polymer clay I needed to make a couple of little guys, which we burnt because we screwed up the math and our oven runs hot :o/…

…that mouse was supposed to be elephant grey and baby pink. Anyway, making them was fun and I definitely want to proceed with the bigger project once I work out some of the logistics and play with the remaining clay to figure out how best to bake it in our wonky oven. I’m also going to invest in an oven thermometer at the suggestion of a bunch of my friends on Facebook, just to see how far off our oven is and how it cycles. My friend Mark – the one from the UK with the neat fish tanks, not the one who bought a forest in Nova Scotia – found this really good series of blog posts about baking polymer clay, so once I get my shit together and really get into this project, I’m definitely going to re-read those and maybe seek out more resources. The more info the better.

What I haven’t figured out yet is how to fund the bigger project. Polymer clay is pretty expensive and not really in my budget and I’m going to need a lot. I only bought this stuff to screw around with because my mom gave me a gift card for my birthday and there was nothing else at Michael’s that looked interesting. I didn’t know it would lead to IDEAS. If I’d have known that, I would have stuck to scrapbook paper! I still need to figure out if I’m capable of executing it with the oven we have anyway and I have so much on my plate at the moment that I just don’t even have the desk space right now to work on it so it’s a far ways off.

The gift card though, oy! We get to the cash register and she rings up our stuff, scans my coupon on my phone and swipes the gift card and it wouldn’t work. Long story short: The customer service lady worked for 20 mins to get the gift card to work in the machine and it wouldn’t, 1-800-MICHAELS is not open on Sundays for them to check the balance and when the lady peeled the sticker off the back to reveal the PIN # the paper came along with it, ruining the legibility of the numbers. Finally the lady just GUESSED the PIN # and it went through! The lady had never seen a cardboard gift card before and said she’d tell corporate that they suck. I was so so so fucking thankful that Blake was with me and handling the transaction because I was kinda freaking out. I knew worst case scenario was that I’d have to pay for my purchase, which I had enough money to do, and my mom and I could work it out. I figured she kept the receipt for the gift card because…that’s my mom…and I only spent as much as the gift card was for so somehow it would work out, but the fact that people kept trying to get in line behind us (we were at the customer service desk) and the lady kept having to tell them to go to another register was freaking me out and I wanted to melt into the floor. When she guessed the fucking PIN though and it went through, for a fraction of a second there I think I might have believed in God. At the very least either her karma was good or mine was or something. But nah, it was just a flukey “win”. And she was GREAT for persevering. That’s good customer service, that’s the kind of customer service we provide our customers at my work (which I happen to think is excellent on its own, but especially when compared to most other companies’ customer service). Michael’s had kinda been on my shit list after they sold me old varnish that fucked up a painting and the cover of a sketchbook (which the varnish manufacturer made good on, because DecoArt ALSO has excellent customer service) but I think we’re square for the time being.

Last week I bought myself flowers because they were just so beautiful they had to come home with me, and they’re still going strong. They’re Gerbera daisies, which are actually more related to sunflowers than daisies, according to Wikipedia:

Aren’t they crazy beautiful?
Isn’t my desk crazy messy?
I should just put all that paint away…I may just do that.

In discussing the first day of spring the other day, my friend Rugg reminded me that prior to me getting sick, he had helped me, for my birthday, turn my front yard into a wildflower garden and my back yard into a vegetable garden. This year he asked me if I wanted to plant and it had been something I’d been thinking about now that we’ve decided this is our forever home, but not very seriously because I just don’t have any money and Blake doesn’t care so it’s not like he’s going to give me any. We have decided that we’re not going to have a vegetable garden again because it’s too much work when the grocery store is down the street and sells fresh Ontario produce that’s pretty affordable, but Rugg bought me these hanging planters for tomatoes to grow upside-down, you’ve probably seen them on TV, the spring I got sick so we never really got to use them. I planted them and everything, but then I got sick and no one looked after them so they shrivelled up and died. They’re pretty neat though and you don’t have to weed them, so we figure we might as well. Fresh tomatoes warm from the sun on a PLT is one of life’s greatest joys, so I figure we should probably give it another shot, if only for that possibility. Other than that, all I know for sure is that I’ll be planting the usual cosmos and bachelor’s buttons out front – wait, back up…

…this spring, when the daffodils and hyacinths come up, I’m relocating all of them to the garden that’s in front of our front porch (where only hyacinths grow now, I think) and if there are too many to do that, then I’m just going to plant them randomly throughout the front yard because that’s where all of my little spring flower bulbs are. The reason I’m relocating them is because I want the garden beneath my living room window to be cleared out for peonies because after the daffodils and hyacinths die down in like, the end of April/beginning of May, I can’t get anything other than dandelions to grow there because it’s too shady, it’s right under a big maple tree. I haven’t actually researched whether or not peonies would work there, I just think they will because I’ve seen peonies growing in shade before so some varieties must be able to. If not, suggestions for something LIKE peonies would be welcome if anyone knows anything about gardening! (Keep in mind where I live though…)

Another idea I’ve been thinking about is turning the former vegetable garden in the back into another wildflower garden with more of an emphasis on butterflies and the possibility of a bird feeder in the middle. I want to get one like this, on a pole, but I’d need my mom and John’s help with the pole because I don’t even know where you would get one of those or how you would put it in the ground. All winter I’ve been buying suet balls and we’ve been tying them to the branches of the tree out front. We’ve had little chickadee guys, a woodpecker-looking guy who may or may not be an actual woodpecker because we’ve never actually seen him peck wood and a bunch of different types of black birds. The kids, and even Blake, have all liked watching the birds and I like watching them too if I’m in the kitchen or sitting on the rocking chair in the living room while I talk to Blake at his desk. I’m not sure we’d feed the birds in the summer, they eat the wildflower seeds anyway, but we’d like to feed them in the fall/winter/spring and you can really only give them suet balls in the winter because suet is animal fat so when it’s too warm, they fall apart. Just another idea.

Something else I know as a definite because Rugg and I have already discussed it is sunflowers. Lots and lots of sunflowers. And of course morning glories and moonflowers to grow up the stalks, among other places! Yeah, I have plans and ideas…I just have to get them all in one place and organized because some things will need to be ordered immediately, like peonies, and planted early inside, like tomatoes. Sooooooooo I’m gonna stop babbling and go do that. I also have to make sketches for the polymer clay project. Things they are-a-happenin’.

PS. Madison dyed her hair red yesterday after school…at school in the girl’s bathroom because she’s banned from using hair dye in our house since she bleaches or dyes everything in the bathroom and we just had it redone and we’re in the process of painting the whole room white. So she bought hair dye at lunch and started dying it in the bathroom at school and when she got to the rinsing part, she had her head under the sink, which she said was barely dripping water on her because they’re all water-saving faucets (haha), when a lady janitor came in and said, “oh you’ll never get it done that way” and lead Madison to a janitor’s closet down the hall where she could use a hose and wash the dye down a drain hole where it matters not if she gets dye anywhere. She’s overjoyed that she can now dye her hair again and I’m happy for her, but I REALLY wish she’d use gloves when she does. Right now she looks like she murdered someone…maybe she has…hmmm….

December 30, 2013

Oh, Carolina what you been fed?

Above is “Raspberry” by Grouplove, as recommended by Alex and Ronny during our friend post-Xmas/pre-2014 party yesterday. Ronny said he was reading something about them or about the album (Spreading Rumours, downloading now…) where the writer said they made the best Pixies song of the last 20 years. I couldn’t agree more. The Pixies are currently touring without Kim and have new material created without Kim and I’m sorry but no Kim, no deal. Pun intended! I listened to the first song they released without her but I thought it was garbage so I never bothered with the rest of it.

In other Pixies news, I Kickstarted a big Pixies coffee table book for Blake for Xmas like, almost a year ago now? And they said they’d deliver by Xmas but like, 3 or 4 days before Xmas, they sent out an e-mail saying “sorry, not until February…” and I was like, “GEE, THANKS FOR TELLING ME THAT A FEW DAYS BEFORE XMAS” because I only got Blake 2 things and that was one of them and it’s not easy for me to get out and get something else, also I don’t exactly have money to buy more things so that was a bummer.

I also Kickstarted the game “Stonehearth” because I thought Wes would like it and their delivery date for beta was supposed to be December 1st but they e-mailed and said they weren’t ready and that instead they were going to release “alpha 1” version of the game that is super bare bones and glitchy and you can’t save your game I think on Xmas Day. I haven’t bothered to download it yet because…

…for Xmas I got the 2 newest Sims expansions so now I have ultimate power!!!!!! (For someone who refuses to play with mods or custom content created outside the Sims Exchange.) I’ve spent the last 5 days creating my family and building my house. I’m about halfway finished the latter.

Xmas was good, everyone liked their presents and we had turkey and stuffing. Actually, Xmas Day, ALL I had was stuffing for dinner, then later on I had a turkey sandwich. The next day, Boxing Day, we went to my mom’s with my brother and there was a super creepy moment there where John and I said the same random thing at the exact same time, “this ham has the texture of cat food” and it was like we were one. My mother just about had kittens, it was so funny.

I talked to my brother a lot about his girlfriend. They’ve been together for 9 months, met on a dating site, she’s THIRTY (he’s 28 ooooooooooooh la la), she’s Croatian and then at the end of the night when we dropped my brother off, I got to meet her. She’s a giant! But then again so is my brother so that’s probably good. Anyway, she seemed alright in the 20 seconds I said “hi” and “bye”. In that 20 seconds I could tell she was leagues more mature than my brother, also good.

I am SO grateful that my coworker could fill in for my mornings on Boxing Day and Friday because Boxing Day was an early morning with having to pick my brother up (and we were running about 2 hours early because Blake and I had a miscommunication) and a late night for the same reason, so I would have been useless at 5am Friday morning for work.

Not doing anything for New Year’s Eve because I never do and I have to work in the morning BUT the Winter Classic game is in the afternoon so that’s definitely in the cards. Speaking of cards, Wes is like, a Cards Against Humanity savant. This was one of his contributions last night. He’s TEN.

I made my mom a painting for Xmas but it wasn’t finished until late Xmas night so I didn’t have an opportunity to take pics of it. Well, good pics anyway. I wasn’t happy with how it turned out but she liked it and that’s all that matters. In the new year I’m going to post what I made my Secret Satan but I think she’s going to be in high demand so I’m not going to post her until I have prints etc. set up in my Zazzle shop, pending the pics I took before I shipped her off to the US are good enough.

So yeah. Happy New Year if I don’t post before then!

December 24, 2013

Sounds of laughter, shades of life…

I guess I’ll start in order of things happening, although honestly I’m a little foggy on when I was told what, specifically, but that’s neither here nor there I guess.

Saturday night was Blake’s work Xmas party and I had taken the day off work to get my shit together, get there, stay there and come home in one piece. Well, I was successful. The theme of the party was “black & white” so I wore what I wore to Blake’s grama’s funeral and probably what I’ll wear to my grama’s funeral (in a weird coincidence…), which was a black tulle skirt with a black tulle flowy Free People-y dress/top thing, fishnets, Docs. Oh and I wore a floor length hoodie over top because it’s winter and I don’t care how well heated a building may be, I’m probably going to be cold.

Right before we left, Blake said something like, “your grama fell last night and she’s in the hospital, but she’s okay” and well, she has brain tumours so it’s obvious why she fell but what does that mean? But since it didn’t seem immediate, I just kept getting ready and figured my mom would tell me the next day that my grama broke her hip or something “not serious”.

The party was okay. We hung out with our friends Charissa and Gary, which was cool. A bunch of people came up to Blake and he introduced me to them but I couldn’t tell you what a single one’s name was or even what they looked like. I just smiled and nodded and played with my phone (which, Blake’s work being a telecomm, was perfectly okay). The food was not my thing. They started us with squash soup (barf) and salad that both looked and smelled weird so I didn’t eat that either. The main course was a small steak with fake grill marks (which I ate) and a piece of chicken that Blake says comes from some frozen food company (did not eat). And roast potatoes (did eat) and green beans (didn’t eat). Dessert was a chocolate mousse and/or cheesecake thing that I tried to like but it was just texturally weird so I left most of it on my plate. There were prizes. Charissa won a phone (all I know is that it’s Android, whereas she’s a Blackberry holdout)  and Blake won a stuffed panda to add to my collection. His work has animal mascots that swap out every now and then and right now it’s pandas, probably trying to capitalize on the fact that The Toronto Zoo has two brand new ones. Anyway, I have most, if not all of the mascot plushies, from the last 8 years. So that was cool. There were also light-up fake ice cubes at each of our place settings with the name of the party on them. After dessert, they announced dancing was going to start and as if on cue fucking Blurred Lines came on, which was funny because I told Blake earlier that week that I bet I’d hear it at LEAST once while we were there and it was the first thing the DJ played. Hilarious. That was our cue to exit so we left and came home.

On Sunday I think John texted Blake or there was some sort of silent communication that it was okay to tell me that my grama had fallen because one of the tumours in her brain had started bleeding and that she was at St. Mike’s, the big scary Toronto hospital, the ICU of which I spent a month in, having undergone brain surgery to fix the bleed. The finer details I found out yesterday from my mom in an e-mail. I guess my grama fell and pressed her Life Alert button to get help, so it’s a g0od thing she had that or who knows what might have happened.

After surgery she was in the ICU but could remember her name and the answers to all the questions they asked her so she was a-okay. Still has terminal brain and lung cancer, but isn’t going to die of a slow brain bleed at this stage of the game. So that’s good. And my mom just e-mailed me to say that my grama’s being moved to the less scary hospital closer to home so while she won’t be out for Christmas, she’ll be more easily accessible by everyone she’d normally spend Christmas with.

Last week or the week before when Blake, my mom and I were hashing out plans to get together for “Christmas” (which is happening on Boxing Day, just as it has been for most of my life), I asked my mom if she had invited my brother and his girlfriend and she casually mentioned that my brother had not been replying to her e-mails but that they were both invited if I wanted to ask them.

MINEFIELD!

So I hummed and hawed and dragged my feet and had started a conversation with my brother about random things last week but I was sort of dancing around the whole Christmas conversation because if he’s not answering my mom’s e-mails (and based on some things he said to me a few weeks ago), then I don’t want to get in the middle of whatever it is he’s mad at her for this time. Things are going good between me and my brother so I didn’t exactly want to rock what can often be an extremely volatile boat! But yesterday my mom e-mailed my brother about my grama with the subject line “important” and cc’d me on it, so I texted him to check his e-mail. He went into action mode and asked what he could do.

I don’t know what my mom answered (she doesn’t “reply all”, which is super annoying but you get used to it) but that’s when I asked him via text if he and his girlfriend wanted to come to mom’s on Boxing Day if we picked him up and brought him home. He waited a while before he replied and he wanted to make sure it was not an inconvenience. LOL We live 2 hours away from both him AND our mom and our car can only sit 5 people including the driver and we’re 4, so no, not an inconvenience AT ALL, Chad…but no, I promised him it wasn’t a problem and that Blake had made the offer ages ago (which is true and my brother and I had talked about in like, Sept.) and it was all good. So he said that he would be coming but that his girlfriend had to work. I felt like I’d won a marathon. I was totally expecting him to go off on me about our mother about whatever was eating him to not reply to her e-mails but he didn’t and he was gonna set aside his shit so we could all support my mom while her mom’s in the hospital having her last Christmas, so that was awesome.

The only thing I was worried about was the fact that I have to work tomorrow, Boxing Day and the next day, which would have been fine if it was just us, but with picking my brother up and dropping him off, we’re adding 4 extra hours onto the day. BUT! Since I worked Black Friday and will be working tomorrow morning for her, a coworker has agreed to do my mornings Boxing Day and Friday so we can start earlier and end later. Hooray! Total life saver!

Then on Sunday we’re having “friend Xmas” with Ronny, Alex, Deanna, her boyfriend Bradley and Madison’s girlfriend Ramona whom I don’t know at all. Much Cards Against Humanity will be played. Pizza will probably be eaten (unless Madison and I can find anything worth making on the Pinterests before then). Drinks will probably be had by those in the room who brought them.

And THEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN on New Year’s Day it’s the Winter Classic game between Toronto (yay!) and Detroit (also yay! but also booooo!) and I got myself a fancy Winter Classic jersey with part of my Xmas bonus just for the occasion. After I’m finished writing this post, I intend to write Ronny and Alex an e-mail inviting them over to watch the game. Ronny’s from Militiagan, he’s got a horse in this race. Blake’s from Militiagan too but loving the Leafs was just part of our vows and that is whose jersey he shall be sporting on the day of the big event. Truthfully though, I really like Detroit and always have so while I obviously want our team to win, honestly it’s just cool to be playing each other on New Year’s Day in an outdoor venue. I am fucking stoked.

And I think that’s probably all I got in me for the time being. I hope everyone who celebrates has a Merry Christmas tomorrow and to everyone else, enjoy your movie and Chinese food!

October 21, 2013

All in a day, all for me…

On Friday all of us went to my grama’s to see my brother, my mom and John and to eat pizza.

My grama was her usual self, honestly, the only thing I noticed was that she called my brother by her other grandson’s name, but that’s not an abnormal thing though I don’t think. She’s been getting names mixed up for years, it’s almost a family trait once you reach a certain age. Physically she does look older and thinner and generally smaller but her hair’s growing back. When I hugged her (both times) I was scared I’d hurt her or break her or I’d knock her down. But she was in a good mood and I think she really enjoys seeing my kids, even if they don’t say very much.

Seeing my brother was awesome, I wish we could spend more time together. We decided to keep in touch via text message since his only internet is his phone and he got an apartment. He moves in Nov. 1st but is leaving my mom’s on Sunday to gather his shit from wherever and get ready to move. He suggested we get together at my mom’s on Friday but A) I don’t know how my mom feels about that and B) I don’t know how Blake feels about that so I dunno how feasible that is. We’ll see, but I kinda don’t think so, which I told him.

He totally remembers me scaring the shit out of him the first time he watched Carrie and we decided he was 9 when that happened and I would have been 15. There are many joyous moments in my life and that is definitely one of them. I drink the dewy tears of children for breakfast. Mmmmmm delicious.

So that was Friday.

Then Saturday morning Blake took the dogs to the SPCA to get microchipped because they were doing a clinic (that our friend Mark told us about because of this post; total fluke thing that it was happening now) so that’s one less thing to worry about, especially if we move and they ever got loose in a new place. Saturday night Madison, Blake and I tried to watch Much Ado About Nothing, the Joss Whedon version, but I could not follow it AT ALL and have no idea what it was about or how it ended. I’m sure it was genius…

Sunday all we did was watch Sam and Dean because Madison had a friend over and today I have a work meeting, which sucks. And now you’re up to speed!

September 16, 2013

Tinkl’s

Yesterday we went to the Uxbridge Studio Tour, which my mom was in and the reason I went to this one, (because she’s in a billion shows a year and I rarely go) because I had a feeling my brother was going to be there helping set up and tear down once it was all over. I was correct.

When we got there, my mom was surprised to see me because I didn’t tell her we were coming. Actually we didn’t even decide that’s what we were doing for sure until yesterday morning, so there was no way to tell her anyway. (She doesn’t have a cell phone. Well she does but she never has it on her.)

So we get there and my mom tells me my brother’s in the truck playing games on his phone. Well, I haven’t seen the guy in 8 years so I’m not about to go ambush him 1-on-1 so she went and got him and he and I walked around and talked for a bit about nothing important. That’s the thing about my brother, he’s SO quiet. He just doesn’t talk unless spoken to. He’s always been that way but in the 8 years that have passed, I think he got quieter.

I told him I loved him and he told me he loved me back. Everything else is mostly a blur.

Chad had never been to Tinkl’s before and Wes was a baby when we went last and they were on the tour and not too far away so we all decided to go.

The car ride there and back was super uncomfortable. Chad doesn’t talk and was sitting in the front because his legs are so damn long, so it was mostly silent. I was sitting behind him and could see his face in the side mirror; I couldn’t stop looking at him. I dunno why. I think maybe because every time I see him all I feel is love (usually). Like I look at his face and I feel love. This must be left over from when we were kids, I guess, I dunno. It’s not like that with anyone else. Not even Blake.

So back to Tinkl’s. I’ve written about them before but it was a long time ago, like 10 years ago, Wes wasn’t walking yet I don’t think. Judith Tinkl is a quiltmaker  and her husband Viktor works in concrete. He has made all kinds of crazy characters all over their property and it’s almost one of those things you have to see to appreciate, but I tried my best to take pics of juuuuust about everything. Since there are so many, here’s the gallery of them, but I’ll post a few too:

There ya go, now you can say you’ve seen a concrete vulva.

We saw a Walking Stick! I’d never seen one before in my life!
And when we got back to my mom’s tent, there was another one there too!

Crows.

I thought this was the coolest thing I saw all day.

I think this is the best pic I took all day.

After Tinkl’s we went back to my mom’s tent and shot the shit for a while and that was pretty much the whole day. When we were about to leave, I asked my brother if he would take a picture with me, and he said sure, so here ya go (taken by Blake):

My hair is so light it practically blends into his hoodie haha

And that’s all she wrote because I’m having a mild pancreatic attack and just can’t write anymore. :o/

September 11, 2013

Aaaaall Riiiiiight Now, Baby It’s All Right Now

So my mom’s got her studio tour in Uxbridge next weekend which means we can’t really come and hang out with them and my brother but possibly the following Monday is okay because the weekend after that is my studio tour (from hell) and I’m going to need the Monday following it to decompress. I’m also going to suggest Wednesdays if she thinks that Monday is no good.

I haven’t seen my brother in 8 years. He wasn’t very nice to me during our last interaction which was only a few months ago so I don’t know what to expect.

I’m mesmerized by this thorough list of songs that use cowbell.

Blake’s got me hooked on this show called Supernatural which is actually very Buffy-esque but nowhere near as cool.  We’re in the middle of season 2 so we have a long way to go to catch up with current TV. I think Blake said there’s been 6 or 7 seasons so far? So yeah, we have a long way to go.

I’m pretty stressed out about the studio tour. One of the ladies who’s sharing the space with me (also a painter) suggested that we do something artistic, like part of our process, while people are walking around. I dunno how I feel about that but at the same time, what am I going to do, just sit there and nervously tweet? So I’ve decided I’m going to work on my colouring book while I’m there because those girls don’t require shading. My shading process uses Krylon’s Workable Fixative and it’s probably not a good idea to use it in an enclosed space with no windows. (I do at home because it’s just a tiny spritz every now and then, but I can see why it might be a concern.)

This might sound like the biggest first world problem ever but I dunno what to wear. Blake said “something Free People-y” which to me means “dress up”. Well we have to be there at 9am – likely before that. You want me up, my hair done, my makeup done AND dressed up and out the door by like, 8:45am? Lawd help me please. I think, especially since I’m going to be sitting most of the time, that my overalls with a tank top is just fine for both days. Tell me if you disagree. It’s comfortable, and get THIS, apparently “on trend“.  So people will think I’m cool, right? And if I get cold, I’ll just put on a hoodie. Good?

And finally, I sent Blake a picture of my boob…

Which is MONUMENTAL because he put a “u” in “favourite” like a proper citizen of the commonwealth!

Anyway, that’s all I got. Peace oot, homies.

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